It’s hard to have a conversation about 1990s television without discussing one of its most important staples: Nickelodeon – specifically, Nickelodeon’s slate of cartoons, formally known as “Nicktoons”. That includes many animated television programs now revered by many who grew up in that decade, like Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, The Ren and Stimpy Show, and many other such titles.
For a decade, the children’s network was the dominant player in the game of adolescent programming… and now it seems the company is thinking about returning to that well in the future.
According to a new report from Variety, the network is mulling over revivals for a number of those now-classic TV shows, the most prominent one in conversation right now being Rugrats. However, that’s only part of the story, judging by the statements from Russell Hicks, president of content and development at Nickelodeon:
We are looking at our library to bring back ideas, shows that were loved, in a fresh new way… We are getting ready to bring back some of the ones [older fans have] told us multiple times they want to have brought back,”
While Nickelodeon is thinking about revivals, they would not necessarily be done as either full-time or even mini-series (a la what we’re seeing now with live-action TV shows like The X-Files and Heroes). Rather, the network is exploring options that include new feature films and one-off specials. Ultimately, the report states that the development of these revivals won’t be occupying the bulk of the company’s development time.
Revivals across television (as mentioned) are popular right now, and revivals within the realm of children’s programming is no exception – in fact, it wasn’t too long ago that Cartoon Network’s Powerpuff Girls found itself the topic of conversation when the network revived the show with a new version set to air in 2016. However, Nickelodeon doesn’t want to be known as the network that only banks on the past, especially not now that it’s recently lost a lot of traction to the likes of Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Disney XD (not to mention, streaming outlets like Netflix and Amazon).
There’s a good chance one-off specials of classic Nicktoon series could be used to help launch a new show. For example, a one-off half-hour revival of Doug could lead into the series premiere of a brand-new animated program. (Same for Rugrats or Hey Arnold!, for that matter.) This is Nickelodeon’s attempt to regain some ground with its current stable of animated programming by using old classics as its programming anchor – a wise move in today’s crowded climate.